Almost 90 years since it was made, Captain John Noel’s film, ‘The Epic of Everest’ is to be restored by the British Film Institute. Based in London, this world acclaimed organisation has the technical expertise to restore the film, made by Captain Noel of the 1924 expedition to Mount Everest.
To climb Mount Everest had long been an ambition of the British, and 3 expeditions were sent out after the first world war. Captain Noel was selected to film the 1922 attempt, and had a specially designed cine camera made to record the event. In 1924, he raised money to help fund the climb, and took 14 specially adapted cameras, still and cine, and they were carried to 23,000 feet, in order to film the successful party. Tragically, George Mallory and Andrew Irvine disappeared 600 feet from the summit; Noel, nonetheless, toured America with the film and still images, as well as lecturing in UK and in Continental Europe. Time has taken its toll on the delicate lavender nitrate stock, but we can look forward to seeing a beautifully restored film, when it is released in Autumn 2013. It will be very exciting to retrace the footsteps of those brave men, who trod where no white man had been before, to marvel at the skill of the Tibetan builders in their amazing fortress monasteries, the rugged people dwelling on the plateau of Tibet at 16,000 feet, the fantastic jewellery and metal work, and learn of the strange customs of the people.
All this will come alive in the restored version, accompanied by very appropriate and atmospheric music, specially commissioned, and will be a credit to Captain Noel’s photographic skill in extreme adversity, and the technology and expertise of the British Film Institute.